National Bilateral Framework Agreement of workers and employers to tackle power rates, traffic, cost of medicine, government subsidies for minimum wage earners

High power rates and worsening road traffic are the top two issues that six labor and employer groups in the country want to be addressed before the end of the Duterte administration.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) president Raymond C. Mendoza disclosed this will be the initial issues that will be tackled by the newly signed National Bilateral Framework Agreement of workers and employers.

Under the pact, TUCP, together with Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT) will be coming out with joint positions on four major national issues.

These are price of power; traffic; prices of medicine; and government subsidies for minimum wage earners. 

United positions

TUCP vice president Louie Corral noted they hope the initiative will draw the government’s attention on their position especially now, when there is a lack of genuine labor and employers representation in government’s tripartite bodies. 

“This is both employers and workers saying hey government you have deliverables. We will assist and work with them, but they should bring us to the table and listen to our joint proposals,” Corral said.  

What sets the new accord from other previous labor-management agreements, SENTRO chairperson Daniel L. Edralin said, is that all of the signatories have made commitments to iron out the joint position in the next three to four months.  

“That gives you a indication of seriousness of the parties,” Edralin said.

ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said they opted to forge the new partnership with their labor counterparts to ensure their similar position will be implemented and not that just of the government.

“In tripartism whether local or international like in the ILO International Labor Organization], it is always the wish of the government, which is followed. Because normally there will be voting and most of the time in certain issues, the labor and employer will be voting differently. And the one who will break the tie is always the government,” Ortiz-Luis explained. 

Future issues

Ortiz-Luis, however, did admit that for now their new partnership with labor is only limited on issues they could agree on and not on controversial issues like the Security of Tenure Bill and wages.

Mendoza agreed with Ortiz-Luis saying that on such controversial issues, they will need the government to serve as “referee.”

Still, the six groups hope the initiative will eventually allow them build enough confidence to eventually tackle said sensitive topics.

In their four-page bilateral agreement, the concerned labor and employers groups have committed to hold “special dialogues” starting on 1 March 2020 on labor contracting; wages; and multi-employer bargaining.